March 8th has gone to the dogs: it’s Akita Day! These big, fluffy dogs have some very devoted fans, and are definitely worth celebrating. In fact, Japan has declared the Akita a national treasure. A local vet discusses this extraordinary breed in this article.
The Akita was originally bred to be a hunting dog, in the mountains of northern Japan. Nowadays, these smart, loyal pups are generally kept as pets, but they are sometimes found working as therapy dogs or guard dogs.
A Close Call
The Akita came dangerously close to extinction during World War II. In fact, the government issued orders that they were to be killed! Fortunately, many owners instead released their pets, who then bred with wild dogs. After the war, the breed was revived in large part due to the efforts of a man named Morie Sawataishi. If you want to learn more, there’s a fascinating book about Sawataishi, which is called Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain.
Akitas are big dogs, and they have big personalities. These pups are amazingly loyal. Though they are fluffy, they are quite clean. They are good with kids, but don’t always play well with other dogs … particularly those of the same sex. Because these pups can be a bit bossy and reactive, they are really not the best matches for inexperienced dog owners. Needless to say, proper training is an absolute must with them!
March 8th was chosen as Akita day to commemorate the death of the most famous Akita of all, Hachiko. You may have heard the heartbreaking tale of this amazing pooch, or perhaps seen the movie based on his story. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starred Richard Gere as Hachiko’s owner, Professor Ueno. The bond of friendship between these two really is the stuff of legend. Hachiko became known for waiting faithfully at the train station for his beloved owner every day, no matter what the weather was doing. The devoted pup kept waiting faithfully at the station even after Ueno’s passing, and continued to do so until his own death in 1935.
Are you an Akita fan? You may want to consider visiting Odate, Japan, where there’s an entire museum devoted to them. While you’re there, you could also visit Hachiko’s statue. That’s in Shibuya, Japan, near the very same train station where the super-faithful pup waited for his beloved master.
Do you have questions about Akita health or care? Contact us today!